The Remington 666
The number of the beast is found in Revelation 13: “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666” (Rev. 13:18, ESV).
There is little scholarly agreement as to the meaning of the number, though presumably ancient Christians understood its significance. Some scholars suggest the number is a cryptogram, representing one or more of the Roman emperors. Nero, whose name in Hebrew has a numeric value of 666, is a good candidate, except that the book of the Revelation was written in Greek. Others argue the number is symbolic, signifying humankind (think the tower of Babble).1 Whatever its meaning, it’s not a good name for a typewriter.
But, it is a nice typer.
The associated meaning of “666” is unfortunate. “Three sixes” might be an apt name for moonshine, but hardly for a typewriter. Certainly, the religious sensibilities of at least some consumers were troubled.
The Remington 666 follows the 333, so one can understand the company’s logic. (I checked, there does not appear to be a 999 — I was hoping for a triptych.) Both machines are rebranded Brothers — Brother dominated the industry in the 1960s and 1970s. The 333 is identical to the Webster XL-500 (a Brother machine offered by the Webster department chain2), and the 666 is identical to the Brother Opus 895, and nearly identical to the Activator 899 and Valiant 391 (the latter machines have repeat spacers). Within a product line, numbering indicates improvement, but across lines, it is irrelevant.
I was not able to find an advertisement for the 666, but I did for the 333. In 1968, the 333 sold for $49.97.)3
Update: The 666 sold from 1968 to 1970, several advertisements are listed below.
I’m not a fan of random numbering. I like numbers to mean something. For example, the Remington Standard 10 followed nine previous models. The Royal Standard 5 followed the 1, and four carriage widths within the line. I’m less keen on the Sun No. 3, an front-strike typer that succeeded two Sun index machines, or the Molle No. 3, which (presumably) followed two prototypes.4
In general, it seems typewriter manufactures in the late 1960s and the 1970s preferred numbers over names. Perhaps a number suggested progressiveness. Perhaps consumers had grown tired of Travel-Rite, or Office-Rite, or Quiet-Rite, (or anything with “rite” in it) and were excited by ever increasing numeric values. I suspect also that manufactures favored digits because improvement could be more easily suggested. Yes, you can buy the 333, but have you seen the 666?
As near as I can tell, 333 and 666 were randomly chosen numbers, having no inherent meaning. I might have suggested 777 instead. Who knows, Remington might have gotten lucky with that number.
As a typewriter, I’m fond of the 666. For that matter, I’m fond of many of the Brother typewriters. Generally speaking, they are light-weight machines, good typers, and stylish (in a sixties/seventies sort of way). And these machines rarely set the collector back much, being relatively contemporary and extraordinarily common. Brother typewriters, and rebranded siblings, number in the millions. My 666 (with case and manual) cost $40 on eBay, shipping included.
There is more I could say about these typewriters, but Robert Messenger at oz.Typewriter handles the subject more comprehensively than I can. Read ああ姉妹、どこアートなた The Brother Typewriter Story.
I scanned the manual which you can download and distribute freely. I would like to direct your attention to the “how to type” section, which features the most hideous fingers I’ve ever seen. Very haunting. To download, right-click and select “Save target as…”
Remington 666 Manual
Remington by the numbers
Seems there are many numbers in the Remington line: 333, 600, 611, 612, 666, 700, 711 and 713. Apart from the 333 and the 666, these appear to be electrics.
I am curious to know what arrangement Remington had with Brother. I’d also like help dating my 666s, which I gather were manufactured in the late sixties or early seventies. If anyone has found an advertisement for the 666, please send a copy to netadams @ gmail. Thanks.
Updated Jan. 27, 2014. Found several advertisements.
© 2013 – 2014, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.
- The Anchor Bible Dictionary contains an excellent article on the subject. I have only generally summarized the different interpretations. [↩]
- Appears there was no Webster department chain, but that Brother simply branded some machines as “Webster.” [↩]
- Just to note, the first Apple computer was listed for $666.66. According to one account, Woz liked repeating numbers. [↩]
- By the way, I very much would like to own a Sun No. 3. [↩]